Written by Anoja Muthucumaru
A single mother is hardworking, creative, resilient, motivated, resourceful, and much more. To me my mother is all these things and more. We arrived in Canada in 1996. My mother did not expect to find the weather as cold as it was, but she was awed at the opportunities that were available in Canada. My mother did not choose to be a single mother and nor did she recognize herself as single- after all she had two wonderful, charming, and intelligent children- not to brag.
My mother faced difficulties of time management, acquiring work experience, and finding assistance like any other parent. Along with facing these challenges she also faced the difficulty of learning a new language and fitting English classes into her already hectic schedule. Her daily schedule would begin by making breakfast, lunch bags, and walking me to school. Most of my childhood memories of my mother are from our walks in the morning. I enjoyed the little time in the morning we spent together because she always made everything we did together an event. Even when my mother was not home we still sensed her presence because she kept us busy. She signed us up for after school programming through Toronto Park and Recreation, Tamil language classes or piano classes.
After she dropped us off at school she attended English classes from 9:00am-12:00pm, then she would make dinner, and from 4pm to midnight she was at work. This was not her schedule all the time. Things improved with time, experience, and language comprehension. A benefit my mother had that many parents today do not always have luxury of was her strong network of family and friends that helped her on days similar to the one I mentioned. From scheduling carpools with her friends, or dropping us off at relatives to babysit, she had a strong network of individuals who were willing to help her. I guess my mother was right! -She was not really single because she had her family and her friends when she needed help.
Being resourceful is not just cutting coupons. It is also about using your family, friends, and resources like Toronto Parks and Recreation in the case of my mother. These resources are there to help parents get through the difficult balancing act of family and school. The University of Toronto offers students a wonderful resource of the Family Care Office (FCO). The FCO is there to assist U of T faculty, staff and students in finding childcare resources, after school programs, and holding workshops that can assist likeminded hardworking, creative, resilient, motivated, and resourceful parents and newcomer parents.